Feeling sadness is a completely normal and healthy aspect of human emotion. It has been the catalyst for countless works of music, poetry, and literature for hundreds of years. However, there is a big difference between temporary feelings of sadness and actual clinical depression. Did you know that depression is currently one of the most common mental disorders in America, affecting over 16 million men and women of all ages?
Throughout the history of man, people have struggled with feelings of melancholy and chronic sadness. Take famed poet, Edgar Allan Poe, for example. These are feelings that everyone experiences, but not everyone knows how to cope with. Luckily, we live in the age of science and research, and there have been vast improvements for people struggling with depression, and there are now countless ways to get help.
It is first important to understand the different types of depression and what to look for in yourself or your loved ones. For people who do receive treatment for their depression, the success rates are surprisingly high, so if you are wondering if it is time to get help, the answer is yes.
JourneyPure is a certified and licensed dual diagnosis facility, meaning that the therapists and psychiatrists on staff are trained to help individuals understand the warning signs of depression and learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage and overcome their symptoms for the future.
Major Depressive Disorder
MDD is considered the most common form of depression and is characterized by a depressive episode that lasts a minimum of two weeks and has symptoms that interfere with work, sleep, eating habits, and daily routine.
Some of the most common symptoms of major depressive disorder are:
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and doom
- Trouble Sleeping
- Weight loss or gain
- Sudden body aches, headaches, back pain
- Constant Fatigue
- Irritability, trouble concentration or decision making
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Thoughts of suicide
The treatment for this type of depression is often medication, exercise, therapy, and healthy eating.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Also known as Dysthymia, this type of depression is characterized by a chronic episode, and usually lasts for 2 years or longer. It can range anywhere from very mild to very severe.
The most common symptoms are:
- Under or Oversleeping
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Extremely low self-esteem
- Feelings of uselessness or hopelessness
- Changes in appetite (over or under eating)
The most effective treatment for this type of depression is intensive psychotherapy, medications, and healthy diet and exercise regimens.
Bipolar Disorder is characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood. Also known as “manic depression”, these periods of “mania” swing wildly from very high highs to very low lows. The manic stage can differ from person to person, with some being very mild, and others were to the point of requiring hospitalization. In contrast to the manic episodes, a person will have periods of extreme depression. These windows of episodes can range anywhere from days to weeks in length.
The most common symptoms of bipolar disorder are:
- Extreme fluctuations between manic and depressive symptoms
- Depressive: unexplained body aches, migraines, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, isolation, oversleeping, over or under eating, low self-esteem
- Manic: ideas or visions of grandiosity, unrealistic goal setting, extremely high self-esteem, easily distracted, reckless behavior, under sleeping, talkative, possible drug or alcohol abuse
The risk of suicide is 15 times greater in people with bipolar disorder than in the general population. Medications often work on a case by case basis, depending on the person’s level of mania and depression.
Occurring only in women who have recently given birth, the dramatic change in hormones can set on postpartum depression anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after birth. More than just the “baby blues”, this form of depression can range from very mild symptoms of fatigue to a level of depression that inhibits the mother from wanting to be near her child.
In some very extreme cases, mothers can develop postpartum psychosis, where the depressive episode can be joined by confusion, hallucinations, or delusions.
The most effective treatment is often antidepressant drugs, exposure to the baby in a loving environment, psychotherapy, mild exercise, and a healthy diet.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
This is more than just PMS. Women who have PMDD often have extreme mood swings, extreme irritability, anxiety, trouble concentration, fatigue, feelings of being overwhelmed, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
Many women who suffer from PMDD report:
- Severe stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed
- Thoughts of suicide or their world ending
- Extreme fatigue
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Severe mood swings and sudden crying
Most women find that either a change in their contraceptive method, antidepressants and lifestyle changes such as exercise and healthy hobbies improve their symptoms of PMDD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depressive disorder that is triggered by a disturbance to a person’s normal circadian rhythm pattern. For people who live in areas where it gets darker earlier during the winter months, the change to their sleep and daily routine can create a state of depression.
It is primarily characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sleeping more, constant fatigue, overeating, and loss of pleasure in normal activities.
For people who experience seasonal affective disorder, antidepressants have been proven to be very helpful during these months, as well as light therapy.
Causes of Depression
Although it is not exactly known what causes depression, research indicates that it is most likely a combination of multiple factors such as:
- Biological factors – physical changes in the brain chemistry have been noted among people with depression. Studies show that specific neurotransmitters are altered in their function and interaction with other circuits in the brain that regulate mood and serotonin levels
- Hormones – Especially true for Postpartum and PMDD, changes in hormonal balances can trigger differences in the brain chemistry, can create mood swings, alter sleep patterns, etc.
- Genetics – Research indicates that depression is far more likely in people who have depression in their family history. As of now, the specific genes that control this mental disorder have not been identified but investigation is still underway.
It can be overwhelming even thinking about going to rehab, never mind actually doing it. However, if you are suffering from even just one of these signs, reaching out for help is the best chance you have to put an end to your substance use disorder for good.
Do not ignore yourself and your needs. You are worth getting the appropriate treatment for depression so that you no longer have to live in this dangerous cycle of abuse. Reach out to us right now. We can help.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.